Emerson C. Perin, MD, PhD

Emerson C. Perin, MD, PhD

Ray C. Fish (1902–1962) was a leading figure in Houston's natural gas industry and a philanthropist. He believed in the American dream of “opportunity for success.” The Ray C. Fish Foundation was established so that others might be encouraged to broaden man's self-knowledge and to keep the American dream alive. After its founder's death from heart disease, the Fish Foundation granted $5 million to make the Texas Heart Institute a reality. For this reason, the Institute's highest professional award is given in honor of this extraordinary man. The award recognizes those whose innovations have made significant contributions to cardiovascular medicine and surgery.

The first Texas Heart Institute Medal and Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement in Cardiovascular Diseases were presented in 1972 to Dr. Norman Shumway. Since 1972, 38 other highly deserving recipients have been so honored by the Institute. The complete Roll of Recipients appears on the next page.

Emerson C. Perin, MD, PhD

The 2019 Fish Award recipient is Emerson C. Perin, MD, PhD. Ranked in the top 1% of interventional cardiologists in the United States, Dr. Perin has pioneered and refined the clinical application of regenerative medicine for patients with cardiovascular disease. He has developed robust procedures for mapping and injecting stem cells in transendocardial fashion with use of the NOGA® XP Cardiac Navigation System, a 3-dimensional electromechanical catheter apparatus. Most techniques used today in the transendocardial delivery of stem cells have arisen from his expertise and leadership.

Dr. Perin earned his medical degree from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and completed his training at the Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami Internal Medicine Program. He then graduated as the outstanding cardiology fellow of his class at the Texas Heart Institute (THI). For nearly 30 years at THI, he has conducted pioneering research, mentored junior investigators, and provided medical leadership, notably through his appointment as Medical Director of THI in 2018. He also serves as Director of Clinical Research and Director of Interventional Cardiology at THI, and Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Baylor–St. Luke's Medical Center.

In 2001, Dr. Perin performed the first stem cell injection in a patient with heart failure, and he later published the results of the first clinical trial to evaluate cell therapy in this patient population. He has collaborated extensively in research projects and multisite clinical trials. Since 2007, he has served as a principal investigator (PI) for the prestigious Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network, a 7-site consortium funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to advance the use of cell therapy to treat cardiovascular disease. As part of this group, Dr. Perin has designed and conducted clinical trials of cell therapy for treating heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, and acute myocardial infarction. Currently, Dr. Perin is the PI of 6 active clinical trials and co-PI of 2 others. Notably, these trials include the first use of an immunoselected cell type and the first use of allogeneic cells. Under his leadership, enrollment has been completed in the first large phase-3 clinical trial in the U.S. of cell therapy for heart failure.

Dr. Perin founded the THI Stem Cell Center and oversees its successful program of preclinical research. These studies, which have formed the basis of many of his clinical trials, led to his being named THI's Robert McNair Scholar in 2013. As a McNair scholar, he has studied the role of stem cell therapy in the early detection and treatment of aortic aneurysms.

Dr. Perin has published more than 130 scientific papers and book chapters. He is a member of the Transnational Alliance for Regenerative Therapies in Cardiovascular Syndromes and a clinical reviewer for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and he serves on 7 advisory boards. In collaboration with the Duke Cardiac Safety Research Consortium and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, he founded the annual THI International Symposium on Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine. From this conference came an outline for gaining regulatory approval for regenerative therapies before their clinical use. In summary, Dr. Perin's substantial expertise and body of work have accelerated the pace of discovery in the emerging field of regenerative medicine and facilitated the clinical application of these innovative therapies.

Roll of Recipients of the Texas Heart Institute Medal and the Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement in Cardiovascular Diseases

  • 1972

    Norman E. Shumway

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Heart Transplantation)

  • 1973

    F. Mason Sones, Jr.

    Cardiology (Coronary Angiography)

  • 1974

    Eugene E. Braunwald

    Physiology (Myocardial Preservation)

  • 1975

    Willem J. Kolff

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Artif icial Organs)

  • 1976

    Harvey Feigenbaum

    Cardiology (Echocardiography)

  • 1977

    John W. Kirklin

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Heart-Lung Machines)

  • 1978

    Bernard Lown

    Cardiology (Cardiac Arrhythmias)

  • 1979

    John J. Gallagher and William C. Sealy (co-recipients)

    Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery (Surgery for Pre-Excitation)

  • 1980

    W. Proctor Harvey

    Cardiology (Clinical Practice and Teaching)

  • 1981

    Paul M. Zoll

    Cardiology (Pacemaking)

  • 1983

    Andreas R. Grüntzig

    Cardiology (Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty)

  • 1984

    Hein J.J. Wellens and Douglas P. Zipes (co-recipients)

    Cardiology (Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Cardiac Arrhythmias)

  • 1985

    Denton A. Cooley

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Surgery for Congenital Heart Disease, Aneurysms of the Aorta, and Implantation of the Artificial Heart)

  • 1986

    William J. Rashkind

    Pediatric Cardiology (Nonsurgical Treatment of Congenital Heart Disease)

  • 1987

    Dwight E. Harken

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Intracardiac Surgery)

  • 1988

    J. Willis Hurst

    Cardiology (Writing and Teaching)

  • 1989

    Robert J. Hall

    Cardiology (Clinical Practice and Teaching)

  • 1990

    Sol Sherry

    Cardiology (Thrombolytic Therapy)

  • 1992

    Arthur S. Keats

    Cardiovascular Anesthesiology

  • 1997

    Aldo R. Castañeda

    Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery

  • 1997

    Julio C. Palmaz

    Radiology (Endovascular Stents)

  • 1998

    Magdi Yacoub

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Heart-Lung Transplantation)

  • 1999

    Thomas J. Fogarty

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Medical and Surgical Devices)

  • 2004

    James L. Cox

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Surgery for Atrial Fibrillation)

  • 2004

    Stephen Westaby

    Cardiovascular Surgery (First Clinical Trial of Axial-Flow Devices for Destination Therapy and Significant Contributions to the Surgical Literature)

  • 2007

    Charles E. Mullins

    Pediatric Cardiology (Teaching and Pioneering Work in Interventional Techniques for Congenital Heart Disease)

  • 2008

    O.H. Frazier

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Heart Transplantation and Research and Development of the Left Ventricular Assist Device)

  • 2009

    James T. Willerson

    Cardiology (Pioneering Work in Unstable Atherosclerotic Plaques, Acute Coronary Syndromes, and Cardiac Stem Cells)

  • 2010

    Charles D. Fraser, Jr.

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Development of a Program Known for Its Effectiveness in Correcting Congenital Cardiovascular Disease in Children)

  • 2011

    Patrick W. Serruys

    Interventional Cardiology (Major Contributions to Interventional Cardiology, Including Those to the Development of Both Bare-Metal and Drug-Eluting Stents)

  • 2012

    George J. Reul

    Cardiac and Vascular Surgery (Development of an Accredited Vascular Lab at SLEH; Leader in Quality Measures)

  • 2013

    Alain G. Cribier

    Interventional Cardiology (First Balloon Dilation of Aortic Valve for Calcific Aortic Stenosis, 1985; and First Implantation of a Prosthetic Aortic Valve via Cardiac Catheterization, 2002)

  • 2014

    Terence English

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Establishing Heart Transplantation Program in England)

  • 2015

    Delos M. Cosgrove

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Significant Contributions to Cardiac Valve Repair)

  • 2016

    David A. Ott

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Knowledge of and Exceptional Technical Expertise in Cardiovascular Surgery)

  • 2018

    Joseph S. Coselli

    Cardiovascular Surgery (Knowledge of and Exceptional Technical Expertise in Thoracoabdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair)

  • 2019

    Emerson C. Perin

    Interventional Cardiology (Research in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells, and Development of Novel Stem Cell Treatments for Patients)